My first introduction to Rebecca Anstett was a phone conversation in which I tried to enroll her as a PR Ambassador for District 86 Toastmasters Division W. Rebecca ended up declining the role and I appointed someone else instead.
Months later I had the opportunity to meet Rebecca in person at the District 86 Toastmasters Fall Conference in November 2012. She was present at the Communication and Leadership (C&L) Luncheon and was one of the award winners. Coach of the year.
She had to navigate an obstacle course to come up and receive her award. That’s because the path from her table to the front of the room was not wide enough to accommodate her wheelchair.
I had never met Rebecca before this, and she had mentioned during our phone conversation that she had mobility issues, so I was not surprised to see her in a wheelchair. However, people who knew her longer than I remembered her a different way. “I’m shorter and wider than I was before” she explained as she accepted her award.
Rebecca has MS. She spoke about why she comes to events like the Conference when she has a physical challenge – so that she could show others with so-called disabilities that they can do it too.
When I participated in Joints In Motion in 2011 I was raising funds for arthritis, not MS. Nevertheless, having walked that journey, I saw Rebecca with a different perception. Not as a person with a disability. Not as a person in a wheelchair. As an inspiration. As a leader.
Rebecca has written a book about her journey… “a true journey of grit and empowerment”. Her book is called From Diapers to Diamonds and her tag line is Rocking your Disability like a Lady. A video and teaser are both on her web site. She says, “I aim to empower others, showing them that they DO NOT have to suffer! I bring a message of humour and hope.” Check it out.
- Supercharging towards Distinguished Toastmaster (orestn.wordpress.com)
- See much more of Sue Austin’s incredible wheelchair art (ted.com)
- Sue Austin deep sea dives in a wheelchair (woman.com.au)